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Last week, Twitter released data from accounts that had been identified as part of Russian and Iranian influence campaigns, including efforts by Russia to influence the political climate in the United States before, during, and after the 2016 presidential campaign. Hours later, the US Department of Justice announced the indictment of a 44-year-old Russian woman accused of directing ongoing influence campaigns on social media platforms targeting the US midterm congressional elections.
Both Twitter's data and the indictment are data points in the history of "Project Lakhta," a wide-ranging campaign to shape the political and cultural discussions in Russia, Ukraine, Western Europe, and the United States. The campaign started began in earnest in 2014, though the Internet Research Agency's efforts date back even further in Russia. The Internet Research Agency, also known as the IRA, was but one of several organizations enlisted in these efforts; the operation also enlisted a number of media organizations, including the Federal News Agency (FAN). FAN operates the "USA Really" propaganda site, which was launched earlier this year, as well as associated social media accounts that have been leveraged as part of the campaign.
According to the FBI affidavit that led to the indictment of Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova last week, Khusyanova managed the financing of the organizations under the Project Lakhta umbrella and funneled $35 million to various entities to fund social media and propaganda operations. These activities in the US included covering the expenditures of "activists," purchasing advertisements on social media platforms with faked US identities, operating proxy servers in the US, and "promoting news postings on social networks."
After NASA's Hubble Space Telescope entered "safe" mode about two weeks ago, its operations team has been scrambling to bring a balky gyroscope back online. Now, the space agency says it believes it has fixed the problem.
"The Hubble operations team plans to execute a series of tests to evaluate the performance of the gyro under conditions similar to those encountered during routine science observations, including moving to targets, locking on to a target, and performing precision pointing," NASA said in a news release. "After these engineering tests have been completed, Hubble is expected to soon return to normal science operations."
Ground operators put the telescope into a stable configuration earlier this month after one of the three active gyros that help point the telescope failed. According to NASA, the gyro that failed last week had been exhibiting end-of-life behavior for about a year, and its failure was not unexpected.
Verizon Wireless service is back up and running "essentially everywhere" throughout the area hit by Hurricane Michael, the company said today.
"Verizon engineers and fiber crews have been working around the clock after unprecedented damage to our fiber infrastructure caused by the most intense storm in history to make landfall in the Panhandle," Verizon's announcement said. "Services for our customers and first responders are back up and running today, providing wireless coverage essentially everywhere it was before Hurricane Michael hit."
Verizon had faced repeated criticism from Florida Governor Rick Scott, who said Verizon lagged behind AT&T and other carriers in restoring service after the Category 4 hurricane made landfall on October 10. Scott last week suggested that Verizon misled the public about its post-hurricane recovery, saying that Verizon's claim of covering "98 percent of Florida" was only accurate because it included customers "hundreds of miles away from impacted areas."
Traveller’s Tales has been developing licensed Lego games for more than a decade now, and though the series has made some leaps and bounds, the core formula remains the same: jump into a familiar pop-culture universe, embody Lego-fied versions of your favorite characters, and play through a story that involves action-adventure gameplay and lots of scenery smashing.
Lego DC Super-Villains is comforting in its familiarity, like a favorite meal that always makes you feel better. The character creator adds a new mechanic while fitting neatly into the story, and there’s enough content to keep players occupied for dozens of hours. It’s not particularly challenging, and gameplay remains largely the same. But there’s enough heart and humor to make Lego DC Super-Villains an enjoyable adventure.No more heroes
Unlike the previous Lego games in the DC universe, Lego DC Super-Villains puts you squarely on the side of chaos, working alongside baddies like the Joker, Scarecrow, and Harley Quinn. When a mysterious group from an alternate Earth pops up and banishes the Justice League, it’s open season for the villains of Metropolis and Gotham—at least until the so-called “Justice Syndicate” starts showing its true colors. Evil colors.
Media reports published today that Intel is ending work on the 10nm process are untrue. We are making good progress on 10nm. Yields are improving consistent with the timeline we shared during our last earnings report.
— Intel News (@intelnews) October 22, 2018
Earlier today, it was reported that Intel is cancelling its troublesome 10nm manufacturing process. In an unusual response, the company has tweeted an official denial of the claims.
Development of Intel's 10nm process has been difficult. Intel was very ambitious with its 10nm process—planning to increase the transistor density by something like 2.7 times—and wanted to use a number of exotic technologies to get there. It turned out that the company had bitten off more than it could chew: yields were very low, which is to say that most of the chips being manufactured were defective.
In a bid to recover, Intel is now striving for a less ambitious scaling (though still more than double the transistor density of its 14nm process). It has one oddball processor on the market: the Cannon Lake core i3-8121U. Unusually for this kind of processor, the integrated GPU has been disabled. That's because they're not working; the GPUs use different designs for their logic than the CPUs, and these designs are proving particularly troublesome.
The Trump administration has taken a hands-off approach to regulating self-driving cars, but on Friday, federal regulators decided that one self-driving car project had gone too far. In a sharply worded statement, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has ordered the French transportation company Transdev to stop transporting schoolchildren in a self-driving vehicle in Florida.
Transdev's pilot project in Babcock Ranch, a planned community, was quite modest. On Fridays, Transdev's electric shuttle would take a group of elementary-aged children to school, then take them home later in the day. The vehicle had a safety driver on board. The route was short enough that kids walked or rode their bikes to school the other four days of the week, according to a spokeswoman for Babcock Ranch.
"The shuttle travels at a top speed of 8mph, with the potential to reach speeds of 30mph once the necessary infrastructure is complete," an August press release stated.
Over the years, we've written a lot about the apparently easy-to-hack Grand Theft Auto Online and Rockstar's many, many, many attempts to prevent cheaters from ruining the online experience for legitimate players. Last week, though, players reported that trolls were briefly able to mess with the single-player portion of Grand Theft Auto V through an exploit targeting players' Rockstar Social Club accounts.
You can see an example of the single-player hacking in action in this Twitch clip, where a troll follows user SnowieLive after kicking him from an online session and continually kills his avatar in the single-player mode. "You're not safe in single player," the hacker says in a somewhat on-the-nose message in the clip. Similar clips from GTA speedrunner FriendlyBaron show hackers loading jets into his path and simply killing his character in mid-drive during a run.
Players that track the state of cheating tools in the Grand Theft Auto universe noted last week that one popular "mod menu" was advertising the newfound ability to discover an online player's Rockstar ID, a hidden string of numbers associated with their Rockstar Social Club account. With that number, hackers using that tool could take control of an online user's single-player games, with new abilities including "Rockstar admin kick, Network kick, Ragdoll, Fake money correction, Kill, Spawn vehicle, and send crew message."
The quintessential ghost story is back to haunt your dreams with the recent debut of The Haunting of Hill House, Netflix's new miniseries adaptation of Shirley Jackson's classic 1959 gothic horror novel. Frankly, it's less an adaptation than a bold reimagining that still remains true to the rich metaphorical depths of the titular source material.
No less an authority than Stephen King cited the original Haunting of Hill House as one of the finest horror novels of the late 20th century in his nonfiction overview of the genre, Danse Macabre. His 2002 miniseries Rose Red was an homage of sorts. Jackson's novel has already been adapted twice for the big screen: once in 1963 and again in 1999. The former film is considered a classic. The less said about the overwrought 1999 adaptation, the better, despite a stellar cast that included Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson, and Lili Taylor.
This latest version is the best by far. Even though it veers sharply from the original storyline, there are sufficient nods to the novel throughout to keep the staunchest fan happy. The Haunting of Hill House offers up plenty of bone-chilling horror, but like all the best ghost stories, that horror is rooted in the complexities of the human psyche. At its heart, this is a story of family trauma and dysfunction, turning Jackson's psychological subtext into text.
"It is hard on our men held in Southern prisons not to exchange them, but it is humanity to those left in the ranks to fight our battles." – General Ulysses S. Grant, August 18, 1864.
General Grant did not halt the exchange of Union and Confederate soldiers between the summers of 1863 and 1864, although this quotation—chiseled into a monument on the site of Camp Sumter military prison in Andersonville, Georgia—is often cited as evidence that he did. The exchange halted as a consequence of the Emancipation Proclamation. Black Union soldiers started enlisting in increasing numbers, and the Confederates refused to trade them along with their white officers.
Once the exchange stopped, prisons got more and more crowded and more and more squalid. Malnutrition and disease were rampant. And, according to a new study, the consequences lasted for generations.
No one could argue that a company like SpaceX doesn't have one of the most cutting-edge rocket factories in the world, as the company builds some of the most advanced boosters launching today. And yet much of the manufacturing is still done by hand at various work stations. Humans remain integral to building rockets.
However, a new company called Relativity Space is among those trying to radically automate the process. The California-based company is perhaps best known for its goal to print the entirety of its boosters, from payload fairings to the engines, with additive manufacturing. Equally revolutionary is the company's goal to automate the production of rockets.
To that end, Relativity recently announced the hiring of Tobias Duschl, who has worked for the last six years as senior director of global business operations for Tesla, the electric vehicle company. He will run operations for Relativity as it transitions from development to commercial spaceflight operations over the next three to four years.
On Sunday night, Tesla, SpaceX, and Boring Company CEO Elon Musk tweeted "The first tunnel is almost done," adding that the tunnel will open December 10. "The first tunnel" refers to the initial tunnel that The Boring Company has been digging under the streets of Hawthorne.
Work began on that project around the start of 2017, when Musk moved excavation equipment into what was then SpaceX's tiny employee parking lot and began digging. Since then, Musk has purchased a boring machine to tunnel under the Los Angeles neighborhood with the hope of making modifications to the machinery that will allow tunnels to be dug more quickly.
According to The Boring Company website, the Hawthorne tunnel "leaves SpaceX property (parking lot east of Crenshaw Boulevard and south of 120th Street), turns west under 120th Street, and remains under 120th Street for up to 2-miles." Musk tweeted last night that pods in the tunnel will achieve a top speed of 155mph (250km/h). The CEO added that there will be an opening event on the evening of December 10 and free rides for the public on the following day.
The latest entry to the Google Home ecosystem is called the Google Home Hub. The Home Hub marries a screen with the Google Assistant-powered voice command system, allowing users to call up recipes, utilize smart home controls, or watch YouTube videos.
We've seen this software before—there's presently a whole device category out there known as "Google Smart Displays." Just like with Android, Google makes the software, and a number of OEMs then load the software onto their devices. Google Smart Display devices have thus far been made by LG and JBL, and we did a full review of the Lenovo Smart Display. Unlike Android, Google currently has full control of the Smart Display software no matter who manufactures the hardware. This means every device pretty much has the exact same UI and capabilities, aside from the usual technology treadmill of new features exclusive to new devices.
Two of the world's biggest lithium producers, Albemarle Corporation and Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (otherwise known as SQM), are tangled in two disputes: the first over water rights in Chile's Atacama desert and the second over ownership of SQM.
Both Albemarle and SQM have significant operations in the Atacama desert, where some of the world's best lithium resources exist. As electric vehicles with lithium-ion batteries become more popular, lithium resources are becoming more valuable. That has created some conflict in an industry that has long remained relatively quiet.Who's drinking whose milkshake?
This week, Reuters reported that both Albemarle and SQM have accused each other of overdrawing brine from the Atacama's underground aquifers. Both companies have operations in the Atacama's Salar, and their operations are just three miles apart from each other. The brine water that has been accumulating for millennia under the Atacama is lithium-rich, and companies pump it out and send the brine to evaporation ponds where heat extracts the water and leaves the reactive alkali metal behind.
AUSTIN, Texas—Browsing through written descriptions (whether in this year’s Fantastic Fest brochure or this weekend’s movie listings), The Guilty might sound remarkably unremarkable: a cop on desk duty takes a panicked 9-1-1 call and has to figure out what’s happening. It sounds like a classic high-stakes, detective-against-time story, but what makes it intriguing is that the entire film never leaves the detective’s office—the cinematic equivalent of a bottle episode.
Danish writer/director Gustav Möller has created something special with those constraints, and anyone lucky enough to find The Guilty playing nearby during its limited US theatrical release should take advantage of it. The film feels like a masterclass in minimalism in all aspects, from the way it doles out information to the performance of its lead to the so-good-you-can’t-help-but-notice-it sound design. The Guilty is a film you can’t look away from despite the visuals being its least interesting part.
There is a Climate Science Legal Defense Fund. Take a moment to consider the implications of that fact. The inhabitants of what, under other circumstances, would be an obscure academic backwater need legal defense. Non-scientists have convinced themselves so thoroughly that these experts have to be wrong that they claim the whole field is swimming in fraud and have engaged in legal assaults to try to confirm their beliefs. The scientists need legal defense because their opponents are convinced they can provide evidence of the fraud—if only they could see every email the scientists have ever sent.
Climate scientists may suffer from an extreme example of this sort of vilification, but they're hardly alone. The US has had a long history of mistrust in highly educated professionals, but we seem to have shifted to a situation in which expertise has become both a disqualification and a reason for attack.
That's the central argument of Tom Nichols' recent book, The Death of Expertise, which has recently come out in a paperback edition. Nichols is a professor at the Naval War College and an expert himself, having done graduate studies about the former Soviet Union. While he's gained some prominence as a never-Trump conservative, the arguments in his book are evenhanded at distributing blame. And they make disturbing reading for anyone in science who's interested in engaging the public—especially in the science arena.
A recent hack of eight poorly secured adult websites has exposed megabytes of personal data that could be damaging to the people who shared pictures and other highly intimate information on the online message boards. Included in the leaked file are (1) IP addresses that connected to the sites, (2) user passwords protected by a four-decade-old cryptographic scheme, (3) names, and (4) 1.2 million unique email addresses, although it’s not clear how many of the addresses legitimately belonged to actual users.
Robert Angelini, the owner of wifelovers.com and the seven other breached sites, told Ars on Saturday morning that, in the 21 years they operated, fewer than 107,000 people posted to them. He said he didn’t know how or why the almost 98-megabyte file contained more than 12 times that many email addresses, and he hasn’t had time to examine a copy of the database that he received on Friday night.
Still, three days after receiving notification of the hack, Angelini finally confirmed the breach and took down the sites on early Saturday morning. A notice on the just-shuttered sites warns users to change passwords on other sites, especially if they match the passwords used on the hacked sites.
It's fair to say that the Windows 10 October 2018 Update has not been Microsoft's most successful update. Reports of data loss quickly emerged, forcing Microsoft to suspend distribution of the update. It has since been fixed and is currently undergoing renewed testing pending a re-release.
This isn't the first Windows feature update that's had problems—we've seen things like significant hardware incompatibilities in previous updates—but it's certainly the worst. While most of us know the theory of having backups, the reality is that lots of data, especially on home PCs, has no real backup, and deleting that data is thus disastrous.Windows as a service
Microsoft's ambition with Windows 10 was to radically shake up how it develops Windows 10. The company wanted to better respond to customer and market needs, and to put improved new features into customers' hands sooner. Core to this was the notion that Windows 10 is the "last" version of Windows—all new development work will be an update to Windows 10, delivered through feature updates several times a year. This new development model was branded "Windows as a Service." And after some initial fumbling, Microsoft settled on a cadence of two feature updates a year; one in April, one in October.
The Cambodian city of Angkor was once the largest in the world... then the vast majority of its inhabitants suddenly decamped in the 15th century to a region near the modern city of Phnom Penh. Historians have put forth several theories about why this mass exodus occurred. A new paper in Science Advances argues that one major contributing factor was an overloaded water distribution system, exacerbated by extreme swings in the climate.
Angkor dates back to around 802 CE. Its vast network of canals, moats, embankments, and reservoirs developed over the next 600 years, helping distribute vital water resources for such uses as irrigation and to help control occasional flooding. By the end of the 11th century, the system bore all the features of a complex network, with thousands of interconnected individual components heavily dependent on each other.
Such a configuration, hovering at or near the so-called critical point, is ideal for the effective flow of resources, whether we're talking about water, electricity (power grids), traffic, the spread of disease, or information (the stock market and the Internet). The tradeoff is that it can become much more sensitive to even tiny perturbations—so much so that a small outage in one part of the network can trigger a sudden network-wide cascading failure.
Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com.
When it comes to gaming, I am a man of simple pleasures. I need no boxes of sculpted minis, no hour-long setup, no manuals the size of novels. Let me chuck huge handfuls of dice, collect colorful goods, earn chunky gems, and I am content. Wrap the whole package in elegant artwork with a clear ruleset and a low price, and I am ready to play, anytime, anywhere.
That's why I love Istanbul: The Dice Game, the (inevitable) dice-driven implementation of 2014's award-winning board game, Istanbul. In that earlier big-box game, players moved their "merchants" around the "bazaar" to collect and trade goods, or to gamble in the tea shop, or to spring a relative from jail and send him on an errand for you. (Don't ask.) The goal was to collect enough shiny acrylic rubies to retire rich.
Just one week ago, Netflix surprised us all by canceling Iron Fist after a much-improved second season. Now we can add Luke Cage to the casualties.
Netflix unexpectedly pulled the plug on a third season today. This reduces the original Defenders to Jessica Jones, The Punisher, and Daredevil, whose third season just made its debut.
This is frankly a huge disappointment to fans of the Defenders series. Luke Cage had a strong first two seasons, with a terrific supporting cast—most notably Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard and Theo Rossi as her right hand, Hernan "Shades" Alvarez. While season 2 was a bit uneven, it ended with the dearly departed Mariah turning the tables on Luke, deeding him the Harlem's Paradise nightclub. We were looking forward to seeing what kind of corrupting influence that kind of power might have had on Harlem's hero.